On March 5th breaking news in a news channel that M G George Muthoot had passed away changed the day’s mood. With the untimely death of Mathai George George Muthoot, there was a feeling as if a pillar of strength was gone.
Muthoot Sir to some, and Muthoot Uncle to the Youngsters, is known for two things – one for emboldening the common man to take out the unprofitable investment of gold, lying idle in the lockers, and obtain a collateral loan backed by their favourite precious metal. Two, he was a dear son of the Indian Orthodox Church, the Church established by St Thomas the Apostle of Jesus in AD 52, of which he was the trustee for ten years.
As a visionary, while Muthoot Group branches jumped from 31 to 5000, he simultaneously helped his Church, and many other organizations, to reach greater heights of development and diversification. Besides, he had the solutions to bring into effect his vision topped with an immense talent for human relations. As a result along with diversifying his business from gold loans to real estate, schools and hospitals, he shared the expertise so that others could also grow and develop.
The fruits of his business success, over and above his philanthropy, trickled down to the grassroots level. During the lockdown, he helped many either by the people contacting Muthoot or by him outreaching to those in need. He never bothered that when he goes and works among the commons, people will evaluate him, and they may try to get undue favour from the entrepreneur whose family is ranked 26th richest in India by Fotbes, with an fortune of $4.8 billion.
Twenty years ago when I told my mother that I was going to take a loan against a little gold from a Muthoot branch she cried. She said it was against the culture of our family to pledge girl’s gold. But I persisted and went to the branch and shyly took the loan. Now things have changed. Taking gold-backed loans has become a common practice, whether it is for education, business or personal needs. The vision of George Muthoot needs appreciation for changing the investment perspectives in India.
As a member of the Indian Orthodox Church, Muthoot is compared to Kandathil Cheriyan Mammen Mappillai the Editor of Malayala Manorama. Both of them were successful in their enterprises and at the same time they wore the allegiance to the Church on their sleeves. They worked with the Church heads and layman for social reforms and to build educational institutions.
Muthoot knew the Bible thoroughly and was an altar server. On the annual feast day of the death anniversary of St Gregorios of Parumala, he used to lead padayatra to the St Gregorios Church.
He was always concerned about the well being of the priests and their families and at times did little act of kindness. A few years ago he was instrumental in registering the priests in a health insurance scheme. Last April, in the thick of the lockdown, my father, an Indian Orthodox Priest, had to undergo an emergency liver surgery. He could easily undergo the surgery because of the quick reimbursement that he received from the health insurance scheme.
Muthoot lived for 72 years in this world and he sowed seeds of vision and aspiration in the minds of many youngsters. His life can be aptly summed up with the Bible verse, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” 2 Timothy 4:7.